TREBLE-TOP TIGER STAYS ON HIS FESTIVAL ROLL
Remarkable Tiger Roll landed his third victory at The Festival when taking today's Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase.
Victory for the 7/1 winner, who was ridden by Keith Donoghue for trainer Gordon Elliott in the colours of Gigginstown House Stud, followed on his successes in the 2014 JCB Triumph Hurdle and last year's National Hunt Chase - three jockeys have enjoyed those triumphs, with Davy Russell and Lisa O'Neill joining Donoghue on the horse's roll of honour.
Today he won by two lengths and 11 lengths from Urgent De Gregane (12/1) and The Last Samuri (11/4 fav). The first and third, showing signs of tiredness after the race, did not return to the winner's enclosure, but were taken straight back to the racecourse stables.
Michael O'Leary of Gigginstown House Stud said: "We thought the ground was against him today and he's not the only horse who finished very tired. The Irish Grand National is a possible race for him, but it might come a little bit quickly. He's got to the stage where we mind him a bit. I should think he deserves a good, long holiday."
Elliott said: "To win three different races at The Cheltenham Festival is brilliant - he's been a great servant to us. I'm delighted for Keith, too, who is an important part of our team and who shed 7lb this morning in order to ride the horse."
The Elliott-trained Cause Of Causes, who was sent off at 100/30 in a bid to win a fourth Festival race, was never in contention and pulled up in the final half mile. Elliott said: "Jamie [Codd] said he was never travelling in that ground and it just never happened. He might be a bit sore, but we'll see."
IT'S A TREBLE FOR TIGER AND ONE FOR DONOGHUE
Tiger Roll's Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase victory was the third at The Festival for the Gordon Elliott-trained eight-year-old, but a first for jockey Keith Donoghue.
Donoghue, 24, said: "I've really struggled with my weight, and I missed the ride on Labaik [who won the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle] here last year because I couldn't do the weight. That was very hard to take. But this definitely makes up for it. I've given up [race-riding] three or four times because of my weight, but Gordon always pulls me back and gives me rides where I can do the weight. If it wasn't for Gordon, I wouldn't be standing here. This day last year I was twelve and a half stone; today I'm eleven stone two."
Tiger Roll won by two lengths from Urgent De Gregaine at odds of 7/1. He was taken straight from the finish back to the stables without coming back into the winner's enclosure, but Donoghue assured spectators that Tiger Roll was simply tired after a demanding race.
He said: "He's ok, just a little tired after the race. He's had plenty of water and is ok."
Donoghue continued: "I was travelling so well - too well - all the way. It's a dream come true. He comes to life round here; he loves it. I rode him round here [the cross country course] in December and he ran well, and we brought him back over and schooled him again. There's no better man to set them up for this than Gordon.
"I thought he would win - my only worry was the ground, and he went ok on it."
The Truth Or Dare 10-year-old, Urgent De Gregaine, justified the boat ride over from France when he came home two lengths adrift of the winner, 7/1 chance Tiger Roll.
Urgent De Gregaine has proved himself a master of the unusual race as he was second in this seasons Velka Pardubicka and having run in cross-country races in his native land.
Felix de Giles, who rode the 12/1 chance said: "He gave me a lovely spin round and jumped very well.
"We managed to get the rail nearly everywhere but we were just beaten by a better horse."
Kim Bailey, who trains locally, was pleased with his Randox Health Grand National hope, The Last Samuri, who was sent off the 11/4 favourite for the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase, and finished third.
Bailey said: "I am delighted - it was always going to be a National prep.
"It is a bit different to carrying top-weight in a handicap."
The Last Samuri didn't come into the winner's enclosure and Bailey explained: "The horse always gets very tired afterwards. He is a horse that is marked out by the vets in all of his races.
"The vets are very happy with him - I am quite used to it now."
4.10pm Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase
1 TIGER ROLL (Gigginstown House Stud) Gordon Elliott IRE 8-11-04 Keith Donoghue 7/1
2 URGENT DE GREGAINE (Arnaud Rasquier) Emmanuel Clayeux FR 10-11-04 Felix de Giles 12/1
3 THE LAST SAMURI (Paul & Clare Rooney) Kim Bailey 10-11-04 David Bass 11/4 fav
Distances: 2, 11
Tote Win: £7.20 Places: £2.30, £4.10, £1.60 Exacta: £113.60
Gordon Elliott - 16th winner at The Festival
Keith Donoghue - 1st winner at The Festival
BetBright Cup - standings after 12 races
Great Britain 5